Dalton Wilson the fisherman is learning what it’s like to be Dalton Wilson the businessman.
Wilson’s mounting success as an angler – he won his second consecutive Missouri B.A.S.S. federation championship in April and third in four years – has him traveling the country for tournaments and promotional events. He represents his sponsors at conventions, hosts live seminars and competes in multiple states.
Accompanying each stop are costly travel experiences. Wilson, who twice this year has worked booths at sports shows in South Carolina, travels to South Dakota next week for the 2008 regional championship and will be in New York the following month for the ’07 Junior World Championship. There’s also a potential trip to Kansas in November for the ’08 world championship, not to mention any promotional opportunities that come Wilson’s way.
The cross-country itinerary has kept Wilson and his father, Jimmy, busy planning fundraisers and making contacts to raise money for each trip. His sponsors provide assistance, there’s still a big bulk of expenses to pay.
“I’m trying to enjoy it, but there’s a lot of business involved,” Dalton Wilson said. “We’re constantly writing letters, sending e-mails, setting up tournament agendas, traveling all over the nation.”
Wilson’s winning ways have made him a wanted man.
He secured another state title this year by overcoming terrible fishing conditions at Pomme de Terre Lake. Battling 40 mph wind gusts, rain, sleet, snow and “chocolate milk color” water that was 19 feet higher than normal, Wilson caught the only fish of any competitor in his age bracket to secure his thirdtitle.
Wilson, who spent the entire six hours of the tournament near chunk rocks by the dam, knew one fish would win the state championship.
“It was the worst conditions I’ve ever seen,” said Wilson, who has 12 first-place finishes and has 23 times placed in the top 10 since he began competitively fishing in 2005. “It was the toughest fishing I’ve ever done.”
Wilson, who also competes at local tournaments throughout the year to help finance trips to major events, has spent just as much of his time out of the water. He has worked booths at Bass Pro in Springfield and twice represented Strike King Lure Company, one of his main sponsors, and Tracker Marine Group/Nitro Boats in South Carolina. Wilson signs autographs and even shares his expertise during seminars.
One of the perks of the appearances is working alongside the top anglers in the world. Wilson said he soaks in advice from the professionals while at the trade shows or riding with them during tournaments.
“I’ve really learned a lot this past year,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot of adult tournaments and seeing what I’ll be facing.”
Wilson, a Houston High School senior who will be eligible to turn pro on his 18th birthday in August, said he hopes to gain more experience in different types of water outside Missouri. He also has his sights set on a potential scholarship opportunity at the University of Alabama, where the Crimson Tide has one of the top bass fishing teams in the country.
“I’ve got my goals set on getting into Alabama and being one of their top anglers,” he said.